Episcopal see


Episcopal see

An episcopal see is the ecclesiastical domain of authority of a bishop. "See" comes from the Latin word "sedes", meaning seat. This refers to the episcopal throne ("cathedra") located in the bishop's church (cathedral) in which the bishop sits as the principal symbol of his office. "See" is still used in that way but only in poetic contexts.

"Episcopal see" is often erroneously replaced in popular usage by diocese. The term occasionally is taken to refer also to the governmental bodies assisting the bishop (such as the curia).

With the four different meanings, things become rather confusing when "sedes" is used in canon law. An example of all four usages is the term "Holy See of Rome", which in the Roman Catholic Church could mean the "cathedra" in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the person who sits in that "cathedra" (the Pope), the governmental bodies which assist him in the exercise of his office (principally the Roman Curia), or the territory over which he is local ordinary (Rome), all depending on the context.

Usage of the term is most common in the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, but is also used by some Lutheran churches; the term is also found translated into several other languages.

ee also

* Cathedra
* Diocese
* Apostolic see
* See of St. Mark


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